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Mission Statement and Membership for an IOPS


In response to Mark's questions regarding objectives for the OPS group for 2011, I would like to propose that we turn our attention towards identifying what we think an OPS would need in place and initially agreed upon for it to become a functioning organisation, assuming sufficient support is there.

Once we have identified all the initial requirements and discussed these issues in the forums, as a practical next step we could setup up a ‘founding OPS working group’. A message could be sent out inviting participants to join to take things further.

Two issues that I’d like to focus on (that are also relevant to discussions we are having within pps-uk right now) are:

- A Mission Statement
- Membership

1: MISSION STATEMENT

First of all, do we need a mission statement? what is the point of it? let me begin by defining what it is, and making a case for why it would be beneficial.

What is a Mission Statement?

Defined as "a formal, short, written statement of the purpose of an organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. It provides the framework or context within which the organisation's strategies are formulated."

Why do we need a mission statement?

From about.com:
"Because without a clear mission statement, you may drift off course. With one, you can measure every activity against it.”

“It will keep you clear-headed and out of trouble. A great mission statement is also a great branding tool. Use it to promote your organization and to help convey the essence of what you are all about."

"Essentially, your mission is your goal–your reason for being. Try answering the question, "Why did I start this organization?" The answer will be your first try at writing your mission statement. To carry out your mission, you will develop tactics and objectives. All of these will be part of your strategic plan. But first, pay attention to writing a clear, succinct, and inspiring mission statement. It will pay off in the end and keep you from wasting time and resources on non-essential activities."

To summarise the key benefits of a mission statement are:

1.) It focuses your energy and clarifies your purpose.
2.) A well-defined mission statement can and should motivate participants, supporters, and donors. It also helps attract people and resources. It is the organisation's best public relations tool.

Tips for Writing a Mission Statement

1.) Bring in many perspectives. Get lots of input from participants to develop a broad base of support. You can get this input through meetings, surveys, or phone calls.

2.) Allow enough time. Time spent now will pay off later. So, don't rush the process. Provide time to reflect on the information you gather, to write an initial draft, to allow key participants to read it, and to make changes.

3.) Be open to new ideas. This is especially important for the founders of the organization. You may have had tunnel vision while getting your organization set up, but now it is time to get some fresh perspective. Be open to different interpretations of what you should be doing and new ideas about how to accomplish your goals. Use brainstorming techniques to ensure that all ideas come forward freely. You can winnow them down later.

4.) Write short and only what you need. The best mission statements are short and state the obvious. Your statement's length and complexity depends on what your organization wants to do, but keep it as brief as possible. You should be able to use the statement frequently, so make it brief and succinct. As Tony Ponderis of the Fund-Raising Forum says, the mission statement should be "…short enough to remember and easily communicate. Strong enough to inspire."

5.) Review your mission statement frequently. The American Heart Association, for instance, reviews its mission statement every third year, but it is changed only every few decades. Cass Wheeler, long-time CEO of the American Heart Association, says in his book, You've Gotta Have Heart: Achieving Purpose Beyond Profit in the Social Sector,"The environment changes and the organization changes, so a periodic review is important to ensure that there is alignment of purpose and reality."

example mission statements: http://nonprofit.about.com/od/nonprofitbasics/a/mission_2.htm

What should we include in an IOPS mission statement?

What do others think of the IOPS mission statement that has been initially drafted on the IOPS group page (find it on the left menu)?

Also, the OFS group in New York have a ‘points of unity’ statement members need to agree to that would also be useful to look at: http://www.afreesociety.org/points-of-unity/

I think the IOPS mission statement should be broken down into some categories. for example:

1.) Summary Introduction (useful for a quick explanation of what the organisation is about)
2.) Background of the Organisation
3.) Purpose and aims of the organization
4.) Visionary beliefs: Polity, Economy, Kinship, Culture, Ecological, International Relations, 5.) Broad Strategy  
6.) Broad Action Agenda

2: MEMBERSHIP

To be a serious organisation that is effective with dedicated and informed members, we need to think about what rights and responsibilities a participant of the organisation should have and what the different types of ways individuals or other groups wanting to get involved with the organisation could be.

It is also necessary to identify who has voting rights  before moving on to issues such as decision making procedures and finances.

Some issues to consider:

agree to all of the mission statement, or a certain majority of it, or a core part of it
pay dues: based on income level?
activity level? required to join a local chapter and take part in a certain amount of meetings? or if no local chapter exists to initiate a virtual local chapter themselves to give visibility until others join and the chapter becomes active (perhaps a minimum of 3 people qualifies as an active chapter?)
other possible criteria to consider are admission interview, mentoring, etc.
members get full voting rights.

Involvement with the organisation could include different categories:

member
supporter
donator

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